Okay I think it’s about time I address the question everyone has for me… how exactly do I manage to travel full-time? There has to be some magic formula, some trick to getting this charmed life, right? Surely I know something that everyone else doesn’t, as I’ve managed to cheat the system and luck out with a life of full-time travel! For the past year I’ve been homeless, I’ve just traveled full-time and I’ve loved every moment of this insane journey. Those of you who have been following along for some or all of this journey know what I’ve gotten up to, like volcano boarding, and living in the French Riviera, hiking though Patagonia, exploring Korea, learning to surf in Mexico, playing with penguins in the Falklands, road-tripping in California, eating sushi (for breakfast!!) in Tokyo, hitchhiking to Argentina, and more. It’s been a heck of a ride and it’s not over yet. For me this has been a journey of self-discovery and learning to be a global citizen. I urge everyone to travel as much as they possibly can. You don’t know who you truly are until you step outside your comfort zone.
But how then does one engage in travel full-time, when there are friends and families and jobs and apartments and cars and responsibilities tethering us to our home? Very tricky question indeed. I too could not imagine leaving all of that behind for a life of permanent adventure, not a few years ago I couldn’t. After being absolutely dazzled and inspired by Eat, Pray, Love (check out my favorite wanderlust movies here), I told my friend that’s what I wanted to do. She said that’s awesome, go for it! I couldn’t though. I was in a senior in college with a big career and very specific plans ahead of me. I had a lot to do and accomplish, and at 21, it felt like I didn’t even have enough time to get it all done. I couldn’t afford to take off. Flash forward a couple of years and I’m finishing my Master’s degree. I’ve been working full time at a desk job to get myself through this extra schooling, and I’m totally burnt out and disinterested. I don’t think it takes long at a desk job to realize that you want something more out of life.
Fortunately this time, when I felt the urge to take off and leave it all behind, I was strong enough to believe I could actually do it. It took some guts but I went for it, mostly because I couldn’t imagine spending any more time doing what I was doing. I knew I was well-qualified and that if I chose to return I could get another desk job, no problem. But I have the rest of my life to build a career, and right then I knew that what I needed more was some adventure and self-discovery!
So I sold and donated probably 80% of my personal belongings, I gave up my apartment, I gave notice at my job, I finished up my schooling (didn’t make it to the graduation ceremony though, was already hiking the bewildering nature of Patagonia by that point!). I arranged to have my dog stay with my folks, I tied up the loose ends of my life in my beloved city of Boston, and said a bittersweet goodbye to my friends and family. I headed to the airport, alone. Homeless and unemployed and alone, with a one-way ticket in my hand and so much excitement in my heart that a smile just permanently rested on my face.
I’ve never looked back, I’ve never regretted that decision, and every day that I’ve been gone I’ve been just as happy as the day I left. I still go home frequently, to visit family and friends and my beautiful Boston. Unlike some permanent nomads, I’m not running away from anything. I am so happy every time I go home! But I have the itch to travel, because I love the excitement and the adventure and the lessons I learn every single day about myself and the world around me. So for now, I travel full-time, and it’s perfect.
I believe anyone can do this. And yes you can clearly look at my story and say ‘well, she didn’t have that many responsibilities, I have a family to look after so I can’t go’ or ‘she was making a bunch of money in rich America and I don’t so I can’t afford to travel like that.’ Wrong and wrong. My circumstances are my own but I’ve met and read the stories of hundreds of travelers whose situations are so different from mine, but they manage to travel full-time as well. I know families that travel full-time, men in their 80s who travel full-time, people from developing countries who travel full-time…our lives and stories couldn’t be more different, but we have two important things in common. And these are truly the only two things that matter. If you have these two things, you can travel as far and as long as you want. The only two things you need are: bravery and curiosity.
Simple as that. If you’re brave enough to strike it out on your own, and you’re so curious about the world that you just can’t bear to miss out, then you can travel full-time. Congratulations, go put in your notice! Okay maybe not just yet. No matter who you are or what your circumstance are, you’re going to have to sort out your responsibilities at home and figure out a sustainable travel plan before you just leave.
I spent probably a year of being antsy to quit my job, go to the airport, get on a plane and never come back. A year! That was pure torture! But for me that’s the time I needed to sort out my plans. And if you’re passionate about travel, don’t worry it’s not as though you’ll lose interest after a couple months. Trust me, the craving to travel only burns deeper as time passes.
Now I told you how I took my time and sorted out my responsibilities at home. But once I left, everyone seemed to be worried about how I was going to survive financially. Well, I didn’t just leave without a plan. I had been saving my money for years, knowing that I wanted to do this. Especially in the year of impatience leading up to my leaving. I wouldn’t go shopping (just ask my sister, I’m still wearing jeans I bought 7 years ago, she hates it), I wouldn’t go out to eat, I got the cheapest phone plan I could find, I picked up a part-time job (on top of my full-time job and full-time studies…don’t worry I know I’m crazy, you don’t have to tell me), I washed my dog instead of taking him for grooming, I walked to work instead of taking the T. In short, I did everything I could to pinch pennies and save up for the trip of a lifetime.
So my plan was to travel off my savings while simultaneously working like a madman to build my blog into a profitable business. There are a lot (A LOT!) of resources out there to help people to start a blog, but I will give you my #1 piece of advice for newbie bloggers. Anyone can start a blog, but not everyone can do it well. It takes an insane dedication to learn web design and marketing and accounting, a passion for content development (writing, photography, videography, graphic design), and an unwavering commitment to traffic growth. It’s hard work, but if you love it, go for it!
Making money off a blog (or starting any business for that matter!) doesn’t happen overnight, so having some savings to start with is key. It was also important to maintain the life of frugality that I had established at home before I left. I first traveled through Central America, where everything is super cheap, so that helps. But besides choosing a smart budget destination, there are a lot of ways to travel for free or cheap (many of which I’ve outlined for you here). With these tactics in place, using my savings from home, traveling on the cheap, and building an online business that I could run from anywhere, I’ve been able to travel full-time for the past year. And I’m not stopping either. In fact, I have big plans for my future. The coolest part is that these plans were not anything I had ever imagined for my life. I had no idea what I truly wanted out of my life until I took the leap of faith to step outside my comfort zone and get on that airplane by myself. I hope you have the bravery and curiosity to do the same. Because I promise you this, your life will never be the same. Maybe you’ll go for a few months, for a year, for a few years, or for the rest of your life. But once you start to travel full-time, your life begins to take shape. And it can never go back to normal after that.
I want you to experience this life of travel, and to feel this sense of independence and excitement for life. I can tell you about it but you can’t understand until you do it! And that’s why I’m here writing this for you, that’s why I’m sharing my story with you. I want this experience to spread. We would be such a kick-ass world of people if we all took some time to go out and discover ourselves and understand the world around us. Just imagine, a world full of global citizens, all confident in themselves and compassionate for others. Oh the things we could do!
So tell me, have you gone out and traveled full-time? How did it change you? How did you pull it off? Would you recommend it to others? Share your stories below so that we can all be inspired and motivated by each other!
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